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ICC Note

Despite Sudan being one of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians, its Christian population is rising. According to pastors in the capital city, Khartoum, many of their church members who had fled to South Sudan when it gained independence, have returned, due to the ongoing civil war. There are also still Christian Schools in the country that are allowed to operate and have majority Muslim students. This has helped many children learn about the Christian Faith and decide to convert. We pray for the safety of the individuals and their families as the Church comes under constant and increasing pressure.

 

2017-11-27 Sudan (TheEconomist) “IF SOUTH SUDAN secedes,” Omar al-Bashir told supporters at a rally in 2010, “we will change the constitution”, paying no attention to “diversity of culture”. The Sudanese president revisited the subject two years later. “Our template is clear: a 100% Islamic constitution,” he said in a speech to Muslim leaders in the capital, Khartoum. As for non-Muslims: “Nothing will preserve your rights except for Islamic sharia.”

The south seceded in 2011, taking with it most of Sudan’s Christians. After the split churches in the north were burned. Then came demolitions: at least 20 since 2011. Four took place in August this year. About 27 other churches are listed for bulldozing. The government says it is merely removing unlicensed buildings. But only churches seem to be getting knocked down. In any case, the government announced in 2013 that it would no longer grant licences for the construction of new churches. “Christians have no rights here any longer,” says Reverend Kuwa Shamal of the Sudanese Church of Christ, one of several church leaders who have been arrested on specious charges of spying and undermining the constitution.

Sudan’s treatment of Christians has long been dire. Forced assimilation in the 1980s and 1990s helped spark its decades-long civil war. “Denial of religious freedom” was cited by Bill Clinton, then America’s president, among his reasons for imposing sanctions on Sudan in 1997. A peace agreement with southern rebels in 2005 brought some respite, but “after the independence of South Sudan the government decided there was no space for Christians,” says Muhanad Nur, a human-rights lawyer in Khartoum.

Many Western observers agree. On November 17th America’s deputy secretary of state, John Sullivan, told Sudan to stop smashing churches. Open Doors, an NGO, ranks Sudan as the fifth-worst country in the world for the persecution of Christians. In June, American congressmen from both parties wrote to President Donald Trump urging him to delay lifting sanctions for another year, citing in particular “state-sanctioned persecution of Christians”. (They were lifted anyway on October 12th to prise Sudan from the orbit of Iran, a long-standing ally.)

 

 

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